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M. Katherine McCaston
Cultural Anthropologist and International Development Expert

M. Katherine McCaston Photo


Katherine McCaston has over 25 years of experience in anthropology and international development. Kathy worked as Senior Advisor for Integrated Programming at CARE, one of the largest relief and international development organizations working to end global poverty and promote social justice. Her research interests span a range of fields related to anthropology and international development, including political science, women's studies, and medical anthropology. Kathy's early years growing up in South Carolina's oldest public housing project led to her early interest in and study of poverty, class, and race in America.


Kathy studied cultural anthropology, with an emphasis on Latin America, as an undergraduate at the University of South Carolina, in Columbia, South Carolina. She studied Spanish in Cuernavaca, Mexico. After becoming proficient in Spanish, she conducted ethnographic fieldwork on traditional medicine in the village of Santa Catalina, Mexico sponsored by the University of South Carolina and the Mexico National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH). She went on to further studies in medical anthropology and international health.

Kathy attended the University of Arizona for her Master's degree. In addition to course work in cultural, applied, and medical anthropology, her interests led to a focus on Latin American studies, political science, and women's issues. In a summer program, Kathy studied the history of Mexican peasant revolts at the University of Guadalajara, in Guadalara, Mexico.

During graduate school, Kathy became interested in the local and global socioeconomic processes that had led to the proliferation of squatter settlements along the Mexican-American border. She conducted ethnographic fieldwork in Colonia Emiliano Zapata, Nogales, Mexico, where she studied the process of land grabbing, land legalization, the political empowerment of squatters, with particular emphasis on the empowerment of women at the community and household level. The topic of her Master's Thesis was Power and Popular Protest in Colonia Emiliano Zapata, a Squatter Community in Nogales, Mexico. She completed her Master's Degree with distinction in 1990. Kathy also completed significant additional coursework at the University of Arizona after her Master's degree.

Kathy worked as a consultant for numerous international development agencies before joining CARE in 1996. Throughout her education and career, she has emphasized the importance of addressing social inequities and a strong belief in the human spirit and its potential to change our world. She has worked and spent significant time in 33 countries in Latin America, Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe.

After 2003, Kathy's work focused on development theory and underlying causes of poverty. Kathy led the development of the Unifying Framework for Poverty Eradication & Social Justice conceptual model. The Unifying Framework was designed to help optimize the effectiveness of CARE's worldwide activities. The framework was adopted by CARE top management, and was praised throughout the organization and by two successive CARE CEOs.

Kathy left CARE in 2008 and shifted into part-time consulting work. In 2013, Kathy became an Adjunct Professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas in Austin. She teaches graduate-level classes on international development and grant writing.

Kathy currently lives In Austin, Texas, with her husband, Michael Young, who is an Environmental Scientist at the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas. Kathy is active in the dog rescue community in Austin and surrounding areas. Kathy works pro-bono helping animal rescue non-profit organizations develop strategic plans. She is on the Austin Lost and Found Pets Street Team. She volunteers for several dog rescues and at a low-cost spay and neuter clinic. Kathy & Michael foster dogs and are dedicated to helping keep Austin a No-Kill City. They enjoy kayaking, bicycling, and traveling the countryside with their many beloved dogs.



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